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Old 04-23-2012, 03:26 PM   #21
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The double-crested cormorant is another good example of birds gone bad. They were not indigenous to the Great Lakes region. They self-introduced in the 1800s and nobody is sure if logging had anything to do with it. They began to overpopulate until DDT came along and almost wiped them out. When DDT was banned they began another population explosion, this time destroying vegetation and breeding ground for other birds on islands. They also began to decimate fish populations.

The USFWS, Great Lakes states and Native American tribes have been thinning the population of these birds for several years now. It has made a significant, positive change.

Some folks want to continue to burn coal until we prove that global warming exists and is man made. Some would prefer to not take chances and reduce greenhouse gasses before we cannot fix yet another man made problem.

Man is the number one cause of extinction these days and has been for some time. Man has the knowledge of individuals who devote their entire life to studying wildlife. If we do not trust these wildlife management experts to do what they believe is best, we will surely doom more species. Protecting cowbirds to see if Kirtland's warblers survive is similar to calling for more coal plants to be fired up.

I fish-Lake-Michigan. Lamprey eels came up the seaway that we built for freighters to carry goods to and from the Atlantic. They, along with pollution, wiped out most Great Lakes fish. Then a small fish called an alewife moved in and without predators, quickly overpopulated. They died off in the millions, every summer. Bulldozers and dump trucks cleaned beaches. The problem that we caused was fixed by wise wildlife management. Trout and salmon were planted and lamprey control methods (lethal and non-lethal) were adopted. We now have a multi-billion dollar sport and commercial fishery, but we didn't get it from opinion and emotions. We fixed man's mistake by using science and listening to biologists who knew more than we did.

Playing Russian roulette with endangered bird species because cowbirds might not push them to extinction is just a bad idea. We know that we can protect certain species by removing a parasite that is proven to reduce the numbers of these birds. Opinions and conjecture have absolutely no place in this discussion. Since it is impossible to prove that cowbirds do no harm to native, endangered birds, opinions have to do. An opinion never saved a single species.
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Old 04-24-2012, 03:02 PM   #22
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It seems the government agrees with you that this is the best solution to the problem of unwanted birds so I relent and say you guys should all be commended.

It seems like had I agreed with you I wouldn't need documentation since you and others can make remarks without putting them in and state opinions without being pelted.

correction: I did type my source in. I assume you were not interested and ignored it. I read both sides. I am not as sure as you but I might be looking at a broader picture and this is causing the misunderstanding. I am not personally involved with a specific endangered species like you are, I am trying to look at the whole situation and it seems sometimes what is warranted in a specific situation isn't necessarily the best solution in all.

I am trying to visualize what over a million euthanized birds per year looks like in a pile. And those only count the ones in this particular govt program. Is this really the best and only solution? One hundred million animals killed for "management control" in the last 4 decades? Experts seem to think so.

I'm sorry, its just hard to accept.

Keep up the good work. Give it enough years and maybe the situation with the problem birds will be fixed

http://www.natuaralnews.com/031084_b...halocaust.html
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:36 PM   #23
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It might be hard to accept a lot of anything that our government does!

If you think about it, these are mostly isolated projects that protect pockets of endangered birds. The vast majority of North America is unprotected and cowbirds parasitize millions of nests every year. If wildlife managers didn't believe that it was worth the tens of thousands of dollars that these programs cost, they wouldn't do it. You should see all of the blackbirds that are killed in the plains states to protect sunflowers!

I found an old article that I love about "Mafia Cowbirds":

Cowbirds run 'Mafia racket' over eggs - Technology & science - Science - msnbc.com

I had a problem with your link.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:11 PM   #24
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Yea, I saw that one when I was checking to see if they were native to Illinois. I got conflicting information on that but didn't dig very deep.

The site is a news story about the mass euthanizing of animals and birds by the US Govt. Its called Operation Bye Bye Blackbird and they posted the numbers of different species. Over one million cowbirds in just one year but its been going on for 4 decades now. It amounts to a halocaust in the eyes of some.

I'm weary of this subject and really need to put it to rest. I am quite depressed now and want to think of lighter things than killing birds. I really thought on a wildlife site like this there would be at least one other person with an ounce of sympathy for a native species which, even though reviled, are now a problem because of our doing. I feel sorry for them. They are about as popular as prairie dogs are with ranchers and farmers. That's another victim thrown off balance due to the ecological upset of the prairies.

I do understand your need to protect other birds. Don't misread that. I am talking about the big picture.

Both of these situations make me feel nauseated.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:14 PM   #25
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What I’m typing is pretty much for anyone “lurking” whose trying to put together more pieces of the “cowbird” puzzle for themselves…. here’s a very basic map of the Great Plains…. as they were before the westward ho expansion when immigrants forever modified the landscape, Encyclopedia of Earth). All of that area is east of the Rockies. That’s pretty much the original range of the brown-headed cowbird. So…. for Illinois…which is a pretty large and looooong state…. areas a coupla hundred miles west and south of me are in the brown-headed cowbird’s natural range and…. my region isn’t. That means brown-headed cowbirds are native and introduced in my state just like they’re native and introduced in a few other states but.... they're introduced on the other side of the Continental Divide and throughout all of the northeast, southeast, and almost all of the south.
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As for going back 12,000 years…. wouldn't work too well because so many of the animals that once roamed are long extinct and our climate has changed since those eras. A really good example of a species that probably wouldn't make it is a cowbird mentioned before. I yahooed it and found out the remains of the cowbird that once lived were of Pandanaris convexa. Both Pandanaris convexa (Cowbird) and Molothrus ater (Brown-headed cowbird) are from the same order.... Passeriformes... but that's where the similarities end. The extinct cowbird was larger than the brown-headed cowbird and there were other differences that I wasn’t quite following but I did get the gist of it…. two different species both using cowbird as a common name. The two birds would be “cousins” just like coyotes and wolves are “cousins”. If somehow we could resurrect Pandanaris convexa…. I doubt it’d last long without somehow resurrecting the plants and animals it co-evolved with over tens of thousands of years and then we'd have to find a region into which it could be introduced that has a climate similar to that which existed back when it flew through our skies. This is probably 1 of many good reasons why the most widely accepted timeline for native v. introduced for both plants and animals in the US is European colonization…. if a plant or animal existed in an area before the settlers…. it’s native…. after the settlers and it’s introduced. The Fed’s timeline’s is used for both plants and animals and maybe this’ll help anyone trying to understand why it might be a really good idea if anyone who’s outside the original range of the brown-headed cowbird…. “examines” any eggs they find very carefully, Discrepancies and post #17 here, http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/for...html#post83654. Extinction of any birds the brown-headed cowbird is out-competing in areas where it's now calling home would be forever which is why so many folk…. like me…. are probably “nauseated” by situations like this that seem beyond our control.
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Here’s the choices… as I see em…. when we’re “birding” in an area where the brown-headed cowbirds have invaded…. we can either choose to do something or do nothing. We can choose to check nests for their eggs or follow any of the other advice provided by wildlife biologists and ecologists regarding their control and management or we can choose to let “nature” take its course. If we choose to do nothing by referring to a non-native species of an ecosystem as a part of “nature”…. there will be consequences given…. what we’re actually doing is choosing the extirpation and ultimately extinction of numerous threatened and endangered species of birds. I’m choosing the indigenous birds over the non-native cowbirds because of where I am physically located. I know it sounds horrible but…. the cowbirds are a highly adaptive species proven to be capable of “fending” for themselves quite well….. not so for the other species they’re parasitizing and if I’m gonna give a leg up… it’s not in me giving it to a species that’s not only surviving but thriving at the expense of species we’ve documented as being on the brink.
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This is 1 of my all time favorite quotes that I use a lot,
We should be humble; we may never fully understand the invasion process, particularly for each of the hundreds of potentially invasive species in each of our many ecosystems. One truth is clear: as time passes, many species will spread to new areas or increase in density if controlling actions are delayed.”
-Faith Thompson Campbell
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savannah> I’m pretty sure I know why your link isn't working…. you typed it out character by character trying to give it to fishlk and you missed or mistyped something. I couldn’t find older threads on cutting and pasting links but…. I found a few YouTubes that could help ya. Another idea might be asking a neighbor’s kid to come over and show you how to do it….. kids these days grew up with computers…. chances are any 13 year old out there knows how at least 1 way to cut and paste…. not so for the 40+ bracket. I was taught how to do it a coupla years ago. It took me a coupla tries highlighting then copying and pasting it where I wanted it to go but…. I finally got it. Anywhooo…. here’s the YouTubes if you borrow somebody’s kid for help,
How to copy and paste in Windows using only your mouse - YouTube
How to Copy and Paste a URL (Web Address) - YouTube
How to Copy and Paste - YouTube
Computer Tips and Tricks -- Copy and Paste a HTML Link into an E-mail - YouTube
How to Copy and Paste a Website Address Into An Email - YouTube
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FWIW.... I can’t tell where you stand on the cowbird issue and it doesn’t really matter if I ever do since we’ve all gotta make our own decisions but…. if you’re leaning toward doing something and know you don’t have it in you to actively control them…. you could contact a local Audubon chapter and I’m pretty sure you’d be able to find someone who’d take care of any cowbird eggs you found in nests or any HOSPs or EUSTs you might trap.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:26 PM   #26
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Equil, My stand on the cowbird issue is this. If we really care about songbirds, we need to focus funds and attention on the habitat. If the wooded areas of endangered birds is too shallow and needs more interior depth, lobby to put the funds in that direction. Extend and preserve the grasslands and make these types of solutions the priority. People who live and/or move into areas that are habitat to enjoy the songbirds, wildlife and scenery, need to realize that their presence is more upsetting to the ecosystem than the cowbirds and these actions have consequences. Maligning the cowbirds as the foreign disruptors of the environment causing the problem is insensitive.

Continue to control the cowbirds when necessary to protect endangered songbird nests but recognize it's an ad infinitum "solution". It should be considered temporary. We should respect all species whether we like them or not. The cowbird doesn't destroy crops and much of its diet is insects. Birds that are plentiful and which form large flocks are a miracle of nature as much as songbirds by their very numbers. Cowbirds benefit the ecosystem in ways that songbirds do not, even if they don't provide the kind of beauty or song we appreciate.

There are many websites I ran across that stated the cowbird is a scapegoat and is often used to take the attention off of the real problem. I ran across agencies that recognize this and are working in the direction of restoring the habitat. I agree with this. There are grassland birds endangered too because of habitat loss. I was looking into the subject with fresh eyes and no personal involvement like those who are long time birders in the East. I was interested in the situation in the cattle/agricultural states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas and was not focusing on, thinking of or referring to a small area in Michigan. I have no idea of the situation there and would never hazard an opinion about what birders are doing or not doing in that part of the country. Its alien country to me.
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:44 PM   #27
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While I understand what their interpretation of the "real" problem is, "the cowbird is a scapegoat and is often used to take the attention off of the real problem"... I don't see these pro-all-birds who believe all species (both native and invasive) can and should be able to co-exist if only there was enough habitat.... being able to reclaim land by rounding up all the folk and businesses now camped out on the cowbird's original range lands and herding em into cities and then.... there's the issue of increasing the bison herds to that which they once were and re-establishing the plant communities that supported them by removing the "forage" species we've planted for cows, sheep, goats, and even llamas.... it's not going to happen... our government is allowing ranchers on that land and to boot.... they're giving other countries leases on other range lands so they can mine it while leaving us with the "royalties" which don't even cover the restoration of the lands that've been milked after the extractions are completed. Habitat destruction is bad news.... so are pesticides widely used by BigAg that are ending up in our food chain and in the bellies of birds feeding their young but worse news is .... our population numbers aren't going down... they're going up up up and... more people need more resources and GMOed crops that are pesticide dependent are here to stay for the time being because we have corrupt politicians at a national and international level who like to subsidiize BigAg and human breeding because well... it makes $$$ for the privileged few so.... sometimes it's best to do what we can without focusing on that over which we have no control. Cowbirds aren't an at risk species. We know their numbers have exploded exponentially while many species are in decline.... we know some songbirds are endangered and threatened in part because of the expansion of range by the cowbirds. So my actions are geared toward that over which I do have the power to affect change... to make a difference. This means I'm going to be doing more nest checks and out goes the cowbird egg. I honestly didn't realize until a few days ago they weren't indigenous to my region. To me... ignorance isn't a bad thing at all... it's a portal to discovery.
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As far as allocating $$$ to programs to "educate" folk like me on wringing birds necks... their $$$ were wasted. It woulda been much better making that programming optional... not mandatory. No matter how many times I've been run through the training, I can't do it even though I know the process is humane and is as quick as a bullet to a bird's head. I also realize the process is more environmentally friendly because all the mute swans we were trained on were left out for scavengers or passed onto raptor centers but... I still can't do it.
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Here's what I know.... our government's spending has been out of control for a while and it doesn't seem like anyone in a position of power and authority over us even considers the environment any more... unless they see a way it can be exploited for short term profit. In my state alone we've had to cut funding to so many environmental programs I've lost count yet crap like this still goes on in virtually every county of every state, Murtha Airport, brought to you by American taxpayers | Power Players - Yahoo! News. Think that land can be reclaimed as a wildlife sanctuary or that parts of it could be appropriated for a wildlife corridor>>>? As far as I'm concerned.... extinction is forever and all I've got left where I can make a difference is in my own back yard and on any public lands where I volunteer. I'll feel sorry for any cowbird eggs I "examine" but I'll sleep a little better knowing the original eggs in the nest will have a chance of not only hatching but getting enough to eat from their own mother that they won't starve to death.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:23 PM   #28
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The effort here in Central Texas is oriented to where the endangered birds and cows interface. I get no Tax dollars and , to tell you the truth, I really am a failure at this effort. I was " certified to kill" and I did spend money to build a trap and get some cow birds to put in my trap. BUT I never caught a female cow bird. SO , I never wrung a cow bird neck. My neighbor was making curry out of hundreds of cowbirds that Shield ranch caught (3 miles down the road) and had asked for my birds. I checked my trap twice a day for the 2 month long period. And I did catch 4 Canyon Jays, 2 cardinals and a dove. Those I let go, all males. After the nesting period was over I let go the 4 cow birds at a feed Lot.

The neighbor that has the cows had 2 cows die during the time that I was trapping, and this year he got rid of the remaining 5 young cows so I decided to not do it.

I am not out there killing birds willy nilly. I have thought about it and I have decided to commit after investigation, and because of the not a huge bunch of birds flying into my trap, I have decided the effort was better spent elsewhere. I am not sure if I sited the trap wrong and the sightline from where the cows feed and where the trap was sited had a poor view line. So a judgement was passed to not proceed this year. I will be clearing that corner of the property next year and if the neighbor re - cows, i will drive for cow birds, but if he doesn't , I will do something else.

I have read a fair amount about it including Savanah's links. I did not take this lightly.
Also I am living in the grasslands of my property and the woodlands (where the endangered birds nest) has not been damaged by my presence.Extending grasslands in my environment opens woods to cowbirds and does not solve the problem . The other part is a combination of grass and live oaks and Texas persimmon that is very susceptible to the cow bird. I live with a canyon/gorge that was always wooded with cedar . Cedar is the tree of choice for the Black Capped vireo. Old cedar is the tree of choice for nest building. They just love that stringy bark and that food source of ready berries. Taking out the cedar and making a steep grade in caliche into a grassland is an environmental nightmare. Caliche moves very easily in our torrential rainstorms. Grass is hard to establish on the steep slopes of the canyon. I have been told to do very little on those slopes and move slowly with any tree removal, always looking to maintain the canopy. I lighten the thicket so they can fly a bit easier but still have cover.
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Old 04-26-2012, 03:23 PM   #29
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About land being allocated to protect birds and other animals from extinction. This is a good thing and it should continue but.......

The problem is, it doesn't solve this problem. It only protects certain species while everything else continues to go haywire. Its a kind of fencing in mentality. Maybe its the best we can expect.

This protects what it protects but it doesn't help with a problem like the cowbirds and many other problems. The rest of the disturbed, confused land continues to be unbalanced. I don't know if there is a solution in this day and age of modernity. Maybe we are doomed to accept this. It would be unrealistic to expect a pristine landscape complete with buffalo herds again. I don't have anything like that in mind, I just like reading about it as history.

This is a subject that makes emotions run high. People have a tendency to be sensitive to what matters to them and react. We all typically think regionally. For me watching the prairies being swallowed up by trees and attitudes that other ecological issues are more important, due to their beauty and appeal, pushes my react button. The lowly cowbird is a good example.

Most other environmental issues are more appealing and will attract more interest and concern, however. I know whenever I say there are too many trees and the grasslands are disappearing, without fail, in every case, the response is "Well, but I like trees......and .....". People seem to think that now theres something out there in all that blank space to look at.

Every single time trees are defended and I am up to my eyeballs in sick of hearing it.

Trees are eating up the habitat here at an alarming rate (per day estimates are available online)and species are endangered as a result while others are increasing and becoming problems. I get emotional about subjects like "The Cowbird Problem" because its getting the attention only because "something valuable" is threatened. Most people view the prairies sort of like "There ain't nuthin out there anyway......." and "I'd rather have the trees, I like trees etc etc....." and they don't care. Not like they would for a songbird or forest or other scenic place. Loosing the grasslands would have much more impact than loosing a songbird, you'd think people would be more concerned.



Its not enough to have pocket prairies or small prairies. We need very large ones for some species to survive and to maintain balance. We need to do regular controlled fires. Thankfully programs are underway and there is much concern by wildlife managers on this. Average people are at least becoming more aware, not because they love or value the grasslands, but because their homes are in danger of fire from trees and the air is so polluted from cedar pollen its becoming seriously unhealthy to breath here. Native cedars are taking over the state, area by area, which then fill in with large trees, many escaping from homeowners. The problem cedar is a native tree to Oklahoma and Texas but the missing ingredient is natural occurring fires along with a lack of grazing, abandoned farmlands or overgrazing. People scattered about along with fences attracting birds dropping tree seeds, often times with ignorance about the effect of trees and they are obviously are leery about burning. Fires, which have always been a natural component of the prairie is now, understandably, seen as a tragic unnatural event threatening homes and livestock. But whatever finally gets people's attention about the tree problem is fine as long as it addresses the situation.

We have spent the last 90 years or so suppressing fires for obvious reasons. We are now in a state of emergency with the rate of loss to trees. I hardly recognize my state anymore in many areas, it looks like someplace else. Trees have gotten such a foothold, it will be difficult and very expensive if not impossible to deal with. I know Damianita is one person who is quite aware of this serious problem with cedars and I am preaching to the choir there.



This problem with cowbirds is about disturbed habitat and always will be. Other parts of the country are continuing to create a perfect habitat for them. It would seem wooded areas are disappearing everywhere except on the plains. The situation may never improve but that is the main problem and it seems everyone writing is well aware of that. We are morally responsible in providing balanced habitats or we can choose to just keep fighting the dastardly cowbirds like a lot of idiots flapping our arms in the air from here on out. I am guessing we will do the latter but its a loosing battle and morally reprehensible if you look at the whole picture.

What any individual or group of managers or concerned support groups decide to do to protect birds in their area as a help in an emergency or crisis situation is commendable but I just can't see how its a solution. As a short term measure its morally right but as a permanent solution it becomes an ethical question.
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:10 AM   #30
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I'm no birder. Let me get this straight. Cowbirds aren’t native to anywhere but the Great Plains. Correct?
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